Rachel Swarns | The 272: The Families Who Were Enslaved and Sold to Build the American Catholic Church

Wed, June 21, 2023 7:30 P.M.
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In conversation with Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Referred to by acclaimed historian Annette Gordon-Reed as a work of “prodigious research, expert storytelling, and deep empathy,” Rachel L. Swarns’ The 272 details the ways in which slavery helped spur the growth of the Catholic Church in the United States. It delves into the ways in which a consequential but little-known sale of a large group of enslaved people by Catholic priests helped create what is now known as Georgetown University. Swarns, a journalism professor at New York University and a contributing writer for The New York Times, is also the author of American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White, and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama. Her many honors include fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, and the Leon Levy Center for Biography.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar is the author of the National Book Award finalist Never Caught, the story of Ona Judge, a young enslaved person who risked her life to escape servitude under President George Washington. Named the National Director of the Association of Black Women Historians and the first director of the Program in African American History at the Library Company of Philadelphia, she is the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University. Dunbar’s latest book is a biography of the runaway enslaved person, abolitionist, Civil War heroine, conductor of the Underground Railroad, and women’s suffragist Harriet Tubman.

Because you love Author Events, please make a donation when you register for this event to ensure that this series continues to inspire Philadelphians.

Masks are welcome but not required
Books will be available for purchase at the library on event night.
A book signing will follow the presentation.
Books provided by Uncle Bobbie's Coffee and Books

Parkway Central Library
1901 Vine Street (between 19th and 20th Streets on the Parkway)
Philadelphia, PA 19103